Sponsored by Oregon Business

Fields of few dreams

| Print |  Email
Archives - June 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
ATSWheatWhat will prices be at harvest this year? “That’s literally the million dollar question,” says Tammy Dennee, executive director of the Oregon Wheat Growers League. Many commodity prices have plunged since the recession began, others are flat, and there’s not much optimism in the fields these days.

According to Brent Searle, economist at the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon grows more than 220 commodities, with 40 of them grossing more than $10 million each per year.

“Different commodities are being affected in different ways,” Searle says. “Almost all of them are either flat or down right now.”

Grass seed, Oregon’s second-most-valuable crop, is down because sales are tied to housing developments and golf courses. Both have drastically cut back on seeding.

Hop farmers also are facing a bleak market.

“Right now you can’t give a hop away,” says John Annen of Annen Brothers hop farm in Mt. Angel. “Nobody is buying right now. There is no market.”

Annen Brothers locked in their prices early by negotiating contracts with brewers to avoid selling their hops on the market.

And last year’s optimism in the wheat industry has evaporated. Farmers planted 90,000 fewer acres of wheat in 2009 than in 2008, in what Bruce Eklund, deputy director of the National Agriculture Statistic Service’s Oregon Field Office, calls a “nationwide phenomenon.”

The average price of wheat in 2008 was $6.50 a bushel, down $1.73 from 2007’s average. A bushel currently sells for $5.40, 10 cents below the break-even mark.

Blackberries are one commodity that could potentially see an improvement in sales. The demand is up and the stock of frozen blackberries is low, but so is investor confidence. “Buyers are hesitant because they don’t know where the market will go,” says Searle.

More Articles

The God complex

Linda Baker
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
093015-zydellren-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

The media coverage about Pope Francis must have put me in a Biblical frame of mind. Because after touring the latest phase of the South Waterfront development, a mind boggling 1.5 million square feet of office and retail space that will spring up north of the aerial tram over the next few years, I couldn’t stop thinking about the massive project as a modern day creation story.


OEN takes Portlandia route in new video

The Latest
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 3.27.58 PMBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Several Portland entrepreneurs make appearance in patently silly "The Dream of the Startup is Alive in Oregon" promo.


Storyteller in Chief: Brew Stories

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Over the years, many mentors have taught me lessons that have helped shape the way I view the world of work and our business.


Tinker, Tailor, Portland Maker

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The artisan generation redefines manufacturing.


There's a great future in plastics

Linda Baker
Friday, October 30, 2015
103115-lindachinathumbBY LINDA BAKER

This is a story about a small plastics company in wine country now exporting more than one million feet — 260 miles worth — of tubing to China every month.


The Harder They Fall

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Storyteller-in-Chief by the managing partner of Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt.


Reader Input: Made in Oregon

November/December 2015
Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Two trends dominate the manufacturing sector: onshoring and the rise of small-scale production manufacturing, known as the "maker economy."

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02